If you've been wondering how to sell watches online at attractive profit margins, there's great news for you. The market for collectible items like wristwatches is absolutely buzzing currently, which makes it a great business idea for entrepreneurs.
As statistics indicate, pre-owned watches are a hot ticket item at present, with the market for these items projected to hit $30 billion by 2025. In just 10 years, pre-owned watches will likely account for half of all global watch sales, and the sales for all watches (new and old) is exponentially growing.
Online sales are a key reason for the growth in the industry. However, it takes understanding how to do it right to achieve success in this marketplace. From selecting the right timepieces to picking the best platform for sale, there are many things to think about.
In this article, we'll discuss the key things to know including ways to sell watches online, how to set up your online watch store, and key tips for a successful business.
- Start by picking a niche
- Choose a place to sell watches online
- Building your online watch store
- Examples of successful Shopify watch stores
Start by picking a niche
As with all businesses, selling watches online starts with determining your preferred niche. While watches sound like a catch-all product, experts in the market know that there are various categories and niches to the space.
While some sellers specialize in selling new watches, others choose to sell pre-owned watches. In either category, you could decide to sell only luxury timepieces or dabble in less expensive items.
Alternatively, you could choose to sell broken watches such as those made of precious metals or containing rare parts.
Here's a closer look at some of the popular watch selling categories.
Selling new watches
Modern watches come with numerous innovative features like power reserve indicators and water resistant casing. That's why they capture the imaginations of buyers and are a great option for online sales.
Apart from giving you a chance to entice buyers with fresh product offerings, new watches can also be easier to sell. They are more relatable for younger buyers who are increasingly dominating the watch buying market.
All the best watch brands on the market, from high-end pieces made by Jaeger-LeCoultre to trusty everyday watches by Seiko, are constantly adding new features. So, you're certain to find impressive pieces that people want to buy.
Depending on your watch manufacturer or wholesale partner, you can start selling new watches with between $10,000 to $50,000 capital. But keep in mind that the costs will rise rapidly with the quality of items you put up for sale.
Selling pre-owned watches
As you've seen, pre-owned or used watches are a massive online opportunity. $27 billion in vintage and pre-owned watches was sold globally last year, led by luxury brands like Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe.
Many luxury watch buyers fall into two categories: collectors or nostalgia buyers. In either case, you gain the opportunity to earn well as timepieces in this niche typically sell for thousands of dollars.
The market isn't all about high-end watches though. You would also be catering to watch lovers who want to change watches but prefer the solid dependability of vintage pieces.
How much would it cost to start a business selling pre-owned watches? This depends on many factors, like the types of watches you want to sell and your target market.
In general, you can expect to spend between $50,000 to $80,000 to start a business selling pre-owned luxury watches. As an example, the owner of A Collected Man, which sells high-end watches on consignment, says he started his business with £60,000 capital (or about $74,000).
However, you would likely spend much less if you’re targeting more affordable watches.
Selling old or broken watches
A third option is to consider selling old or broken watches. You'll find a thriving, although smaller, market for these items amongst watch restorers and buyers whose tastes are a little more antique than others.
Out of Order, an Italy-based company, is one business that has made quite an impression in this niche.
The company combines "the sophisticated manufacture of high-end watches" with a "damaged" look that evokes the timeless appeal of trusty old jeans or a well-worn leather jacket.
Source: Out of Order
You can work with professional repairers to restore the watches to their past glory. Or you may cater to a growing market of watch buyers who like their watches worn and stately.
One benefit of selling old or broken watches is the lower startup cost it requires. You can begin this business with as little as $5000, since the average purchase you’ll make will be about $50 to $150.
Ultimately, each of these niches has its pros and cons, but where you choose to specialize will depend on factors like your access to quality products, available capital, target market and more.
Where you sell your watches online can also be a determinant factor. We’ll discuss this next.
Choose a place to sell watches online
After you select a niche that offers a great chance to sell quality watches, you should turn next to picking a selling platform.
Marketplaces offer a global market and connect you to millions of buyers at a go. They include: online reseller and auction platforms, consignment stores, and resale platforms.
Since they exclusively sell watches, these marketplaces are usually very knowledgeable about all types of timepieces and can accurately evaluate your item. The WatchBox, for instance, says it offers insider insights and expert service. That's a big help, especially when you're trying to get a sense of what a piece is actually worth.
Source: The WatchBox
They can also provide a guaranteed payday. Typically, all you'll need to do is ship the watch to them using an insured and prepaid shipping label, and they'll pay you upfront once they get a chance to inspect the condition and quality of the timepiece.
That said, a significant drawback of these marketplaces is there's usually a limit to how much you can earn on the sale of your watch. For instance, while The WatchBox will pay you a fair price in advance for the item, they will most likely resell it to the final buyer at a higher price.
Even if you choose to go with an online auction platform, you'll have to pay fees that may be between 20% to 30% of the final hammer price.
With marketplaces, you're also operating through a middleman in order to reach the final buyer. And this limits how much you're able to shape the buyer experience and grow your watch brand.
Online watch store
The second option is to build your own store and sell watches directly to customers. With this option, you'll be able to set your own price and provide a distinctive experience for buyers.
More importantly, you get the chance to shape your brand's narrative.
Selling watches online requires connecting to buyers in innovative ways, because of the emotional connection that collectible items evoke. Through your store, you can shape an unforgettable experience that becomes synonymous with your brand.
That's a powerful advantage that will let you build a name for your watch brand and gain a growing market share.
While there's still the stress of developing a website from scratch to consider, the great thing is there's an easier way to go about this.
You can use an online store builder like Shopify, a premier eCommerce hosted solution used in more than 170 countries globally. It gives you a range of modern tools to set up your store and optimize it for explosive growth.
PageFly lets you build websites on Shopify, enabling you to set up your watch store in little time and with relatively low effort.
Building your online watch store
As you go about building your online store, you'll need to think about a number of things, including the key features for a successful eCommerce watch store, how to source products, and ways to market your store.
Setting up your online watch store
The first step to selling watches online is to build an online store. Shopify offers a range of market-leading features that can help you design an attractive and user-friendly website.
Here's a list of the must-have features you need for a successful store:
- Customizable templates: Templates help you cut down on the time to set up your store. Top page builders provide tasteful designs that you can immediately apply and customize to fit your target market.
- Interactive product pages: When it comes to selling watches online, presentation is everything. The best online page builders offer product pages that let you showcase your watch inventory in a manner that captivates visitors.
- Mobile responsiveness: Your online store should look good no matter what device it's opened on. That's what mobile responsiveness ensures. It's also a key factor that affects how well your store ranks in search engine results pages and the number of visitors you get.
- Secure checkout: eCommerce stores lose $18 billion in sales yearly due to a complicated or unsafe checkout process. So, a fast, safe, and seamless checkout process is key to increasing conversions on your online store. Shopify is known for its secure and flexible payment integrations with processors like PayPal and Stripe.
- Business analytics: You should also be able to keep track of your store's performance so you can understand where sales are great and opportunities to optimize conversion rates.
Sourcing and managing inventory
Next, you'll need to source and manage your inventory. There are two main ways to source watches: through wholesalers or by purchasing watches from individual sellers.
Wholesalers are companies that specialize in buying and selling watches in bulk. This is a good option if you're looking to purchase a large quantity of watches at a discounted price. They could also be manufacturers that you partner with to sell their products exclusively. For instance, TAG Heuer works with authorized retailers that enjoy great access to their products.
Source: TAG Heuer
If you're interested in buying watches from individual sellers, you can look on marketplaces like eBay or Amazon. However, you'll need to be careful and make sure the watches are authentic before purchasing them.
Once you have your inventory, you'll need to create a system for managing inventory levels and orders. This is important because you don't want to oversell or run out of stock. Shopify helps with this through a smart inventory and order management system that provides automatic updates when inventory levels are low.
Quality control is also crucial when selling watches online. You'll want to ensure that the watches you sell are authentic and in excellent condition. Consider having a watchmaker or expert verify the authenticity of the watches before listing them for sale
Creating product listings
Now that you have your inventory sorted out, it's time to create compelling product listings. Product listings are your chance to showcase your watches and convince potential customers to make a purchase.
Start by writing compelling product descriptions that highlight the features and benefits of each watch. Use descriptive language and be as detailed as possible. Make sure you include information like the brand, model, materials, and dimensions.
High-quality photos and videos are also essential for creating compelling product listings. Use a high-quality camera and take photos from multiple angles. Consider including photos of the watch on a wrist or in a display case. Videos can also be helpful for showcasing the watch's features and functionality.
When it comes to pricing, research the competition and set prices that are competitive. You don't want to price your watches too high or too low. Aim for a price that's in line with other sellers and reflects the value of the watch.
Marketing your watches online
Once you have your online store set up, inventory sorted out, and product listings created, it's time to start marketing your watches. There are several marketing strategies you can use to promote your watches and drive traffic to your website.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an essential marketing strategy for any online business. It involves optimizing your website and product pages to rank higher in search engine results pages.
You'll carry out SEO by optimizing your website's structure, content, and keywords, as well as building backlinks to your store from other reputable sources.
Social media marketing is another effective strategy for promoting your watches online. You can create social media profiles for your watch store and use them to share product listings, engage with customers, and build a community around your brand.
Consider running social media ads to reach a wider audience and drive traffic to your website.
Email marketing is also a powerful tool for promoting your watches and building relationships with your customers. You can create email campaigns that offer discounts, highlight new products, or provide helpful information related to watches.
Make sure your emails are well-designed and include a clear call-to-action (CTA) to encourage customers to visit your store and make a purchase.
Examples of successful Shopify watch stores
You now know the key considerations and steps to selling watches online. But if you’re looking for some inspiration before you start, these three examples of successful Shopify watch stores can provide the motivation you need.
Built on Shopify, Watch Rapport specializes in selling new luxury watches. Apart from providing buyers with exclusive watch collections from luxury houses, the company also operates a marketplace where visitors can buy and sell timepieces.
Source: Watch Rapport
To capture the attention of buyers, the website uses Shopify Dawn Theme which is a simple and stylish theme that lets products take the center stage. The store’s images tell their own story.
Source: Watch Rapport
Crown and Caliber
A well known marketplace for pre-owned and old timepieces, Crown and Caliber has a larger market spread. On the platform, buyers can readily find bargain deals on sturdy watches just as easily as the rare pieces from high-end watchmakers.
Source: Crown and Caliber
You’ll notice that the website’s theme captures this value proposition. They also drive this home using words like “the smarter way to buy” and “price drops”.
Horus goes a little bit off the beaten path by specializing in sales of watch accessories. The company produces straps for luxury watches of all types, and this lets them dominate a niche for buyers that enjoy customizing their watches.
This business approach has brought success for the company, and today Horus sells watch straps in more than 50 cities on five continents.
This serves as a timely reminder that there are many ways to think about your watch business and numerous opportunities to exploit.
Selling watches online can be a profitable and rewarding business if done correctly. By choosing the right niche and platform to sell on, you can build a successful online watch business.
Remember to stay up to date with the latest trends in online watch sales and continue to refine your strategies over time to stay ahead of the competition. Good luck!